The car & grocery pickup in Alexandria early in the morning went flawlessly, and the bike pickup in Winnfield as well – which was awesome.
At one of the breaks we met Officer Denny Pittman, who stopped to make sure we were okay. Officer Pittman gave me some great tips on what I was looking at for the road ahead, and possible issues. He has been a triathlete, and was very encouraging. After we got to our Airbnb for the night I friended him on Facebook and he told me about a health issue that has taken him off the bike for a while.
He has Moyamoya disease, which is a rare blood vessel disease that effects the blood vessels in the brain. He is a true inspiration of incredible spirit and drive to keep going. Stay safe out there, Officer Pittman! Thanks for stopping, and for being one of the good guys!
When I got past Jena, LA, Google maps decided that I needed some climbing practice, so routed me up a pretty good hill. While climbing may never be my forte, I just followed the directions, not realizing that Randy’s phone had taken the default driving directions instead of the cycling directions. (normally he scouts ahead to make sure I’m not taking any weird turns onto dirt roads or anything, but he didn’t tell me to not take the turn, so I assumed he was ahead of me)
About 3 miles up that road there was a sign that said County Maintenance ends – which almost always means, “take at your own risk.” I still hadn’t realized that Randy wasn’t ahead of me, so headed up regardless. As the road goes farther up the hill (I suspect they call it a mountain in Louisiana), it turned from asphalt to hard-packed dirt to mostly un-ride-able rock. So I was hiking up the hill, which is a logging road, and in rural Louisiana the gun laws are pretty loose, so there are a lot of guns going off randomly (a trigger for my panic, no pun intended) from seemingly all directions. To say I was near panic would be a vast understatement.
But the cool thing was I had been talking to my doctor about my triggers and how to combat the panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. She’d had me “sit with” one of my smaller triggers and then logically think through the wave of emotion that comes. While that hadn’t been fun, I knew that I could do it. So once I knew that Randy was on his way to come get me from the hill and I could just ride those waves until he got there, it became a simple practice of feeling the emotion rise and fall and anchoring the realization and knowledge that nobody was shooting at me.
This anxiety thing isn’t fun, but I’m getting there.
Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!